Visitation / Parenting Time Lawyers - Joliet, IL

Both parents are entitled parenting time with their children. Many times the parties are able to come up with a schedule that works best for their family and their children in a parenting agreement. If the parents are unable or unwilling to agree to a schedule then the parties are required to mediate the issue or litigate it. 

 

The Attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation are experienced in securing parenting time through negotiation and, if necessary, litigation.

MENTAL HEALTH & PARENTING

 

When a parent is not capable of safe parenting due to mental illness, the court may restrict a parent from regular parenting time by requiring supervision, restricted times, or, in very rare cases, no parenting time may be ordered.

 

A parent diagnosed with a personality disorder may be able to competently parent. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) is a handbook describing mental and personality disorders.

 

According to the DSM, the most commonly seen disorders are:

Adjustment Disorders - Adjustment disorders are a reaction to a stressful life event that lasts more than 6 months.

Anxiety Disorders - Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry that is prevalent for more than six (6) months. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders - Obsession is present when a person has persistent ideas, thoughts, or impulses that overcome their normal thoughts to the extent they cannot focus on regular life problems.  Compulsive disorders show up as a person who does repetitive (more than 1 time per day) behaviors to reduce their anxiety. (i.e. excessive handwashing, checking doors, etc.)

Panic Disorders - A person experiencing a panic disorder may have pounding heart, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, chills, and/or numbness.

Mood Disorders  -  Major depression disorders usually have multiple symptoms.  The presence of 5 or more of the following may indicate a mood disorder: 

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day

  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities

  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia

  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt

  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness

  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation

Bipolar Disorder – This disorder is characterized by a major depressive episode that is followed by a manic event.  The manic event (the mood is abnormally elevated or irritable) must last more than a week or have at least three of the following symptoms:

  • High self-esteem

  • Little need for sleep

  • Increased rate of speech (talking fast)

  • Flight of ideas

  • Easily distracted

  • An increased interest in goals or activities

  • Psychomotor agitation (pacing, hand wringing, etc.)

  • Increased pursuit of activities with a high risk of danger

Personality Disorder – borderline personality disorders show up when a person has a long pattern of difficulties which interpersonal relationships and with their self-image.  Personality disorders generally have at least three of the following symptoms:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

  • A pattern of unstable and intense relationships characterized by extremes of idealization and devaluation

  • Identity disturbance:  unstable self-image

  • Impulsivity:  (spending, sex, substance abuse, eating, reckless driving)

  • Recurrent suicidal threats, gestures or self-mutilating behavior

  • Affective instability (intense irritability, anxiety, sadness)

  • Chronic feelings of emptiness

  • Anger issues

  • Stress-related paranoid ideation/dissociative symptoms

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - A person with a Narcissistic personality disorder shows up with grandiose ideas, a pervasive need for admiration and no empathy for others. The mental health professional will look for at least five of the following behaviors and beliefs:

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior)

  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love

  • Believes he/she is special and unique and should only associate with other high status people

  • Requires excessive admiration

  • Sense of entitlement

  • Interpersonally explotive (takes advantage of others to achieve)

  • Lacks empathy

  • Envious of other or believes others are envious of them

  • Shows arrogance

 

The attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation are NOT mental health professionals. However, we have been trained to see problems with our clients, opposing parents and/or children. As Guardian ad Litems we address any mental health allegation by involving mental health professionals to ensure the safety of the parents and children. Again, merely having a diagnosis does not mean parental incompetence. 

 

It is important to know the court does not hold it against a parent who is successfully treated or medicated for such problems. If you are worried about taking prescribed medications, talk to your attorney. Henderson Law has had extensive experience both as attorneys and Guardian ad Litems with parents with mental or emotional disabilities. 

 

It is easy to understand that merely having a disorder does not preclude you from having parenting time or being designated primary parent. However, it is possible that a high level of disorder may keep you from being an effective parent. 

 

For example, if a panic attack prevents daily functioning, keeps you from safely driving, or keeps you locked in the house, a serious problem arises as to your ability to keep a child safe. 

 

Angela Henderson, as co-chair of the Will County Guardian ad Litem Committee, has brought in numerous mental health professionals to train the Guardian ad Litems on looking for such disabilities and encouraging parents to get professional diagnosis and treatments.

HENDERSON LAW

 & Mediation Center

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